(Reuters) - American Zach Johnson says he does not need any extra motivation at this month’s Ryder Cup in Scotland where the United States will bid to improve on a dismal record of seven losses to Europe in the last nine editions.
The last time the teams met, in what became known as the ‘Meltdown at Medinah’ in 2012, the Americans threw away a commanding four-point lead going into the last-day singles to lose by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2.
This year’s U.S. captain, Tom Watson, believes memories of that stinging defeat will serve as his team’s greatest motivation at Gleneagles, but Johnson says he does not require any extra inspiration for the biennial team competition.
“I don’t need any motivation for the Ryder Cup,” Johnson told Reuters during last week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta, the final event of the PGA Tour’s 2013-14 season. “Granted Medinah was sour, or bitter-sweet.
“I mean it was a great week but bitter in the end for us. But regardless of what happened two years prior, motivation for this golf tournament is just not needed.
“It’s the best sporting event I have been associated with inside the ropes for sure and, as a result, motivation is not an issue.”
Johnson, who is known for his gritty temperament, accuracy off the tee and brilliant short game, expects the atmosphere to be as intense as ever at Gleneagles from Sept. 26-28 when he will represent his country for a fourth time at a Ryder Cup.
“The bottom line is that this is an individual game,” said the 38-year-old American, who has won 11 times on the PGA Tour.
“And when you take such an individual game and combine that with team mates, leaders and obviously you are representing your country, you’ve got your nation’s flag on your sleeve, it just adds more to it, there’s more weight involved.
“As a result, each shot has more weight. It probably shouldn’t, it is still just golf, but you can’t help the fact that it just means more. It brings out the best and worst of everybody.”
Johnson has compiled a creditable win-loss-half record of 6-4-1 from his first three Ryder Cups, but would dearly love to savor the experience of being on a triumphant team for the first time.
“It’s a goal of mine,” he said. “I can’t deny that. I would certainly give my individual record away for it. I certainly would sit down for the team. I would do anything just to have a ‘W’ (win).
“How important is it? I don’t want to say it’s the loftiest of goals, but yet it has kept me up at night at times, put it that way.”
The 2014 European team, which contains four of the top-five ranked players in the world, is regarded as one of the strongest ever but Johnson knows full well that the Cup will be decided by the team that performs best over the three days of competition.
“Every two years if the American team players are playing well, then they are the best on paper, and then to reverse that, if the European team is playing well, then they are the best team,” he said.
“Frankly what’s on paper is irrelevant. Yes, the European team is extremely strong and they are playing great golf, essentially top to bottom, but it really doesn’t matter when it comes to that tournament.
“It comes down to (shot) execution, it comes down to making putts and really just pulling off those shots that you have to pull off in certain key situations.”
Editing by Tony Jimenez